The Quandry

H.o.p.: Mom, there’s something I want to talk to you about. I have this problem that freaks me out sometimes. It’s about life. Sometimes when I think about life it’s like something I can’t escape. It’s hard to describe. How can I forget about it, mom?

Bad mom softly laughs.

H.o.p.: And I sometimes get freaked about the earth, too. Like scientists say in the future the earth will be swallowed by the sun. How can I forget this? I don’t want my great-great-great-great-great grandchildren to die from it. How can they escape it? It freaks me out thinking about how the earth is going to be destroyed. They talk about it everywhere. Even Tim and Moby at Brainpop talk about it. I can prove it to you, and you’ll feel the same way I do.

Mom (knowing this won’t help one bit): That’s billions of years in the future.

H.o.p.: I can prove it to you. Lots of scientists are talking about it. (Going to his computer and opening a browser window.)

Mom: I know. I’ve read about it many times over the years.

H.o.p.: So, I got here for no reason?

Mom (thinking he meant being born): What do you mean?

H.o.p.: So I opened my browser window for no reason?

One day…

H.o.p.(out of the blue starts telling me a story):

One day, a mouse was digging in the ground because he wanted to be a paleontologist and a rock star…

Ho ho.

Because I caught it, he regaled me thereafter with a number of variations.

* * * * * * * *

We were talking about ecosystems earlier.

Me: You know what an ecosystem is, right?

H.o.p: Yeah! (Jumps up and zigzags the room with hands cupped to mouth.) Echo, echo, echo, echo….

Bad parenting

I was in the next room and heard H.o.p. questioning Marty endlessly on something and heard also a note of exasperation entering Marty’s weary voice.


Marty: How many times have I told you the answer? Why do you keep asking me that?

H.o.p. (with a laconic touch of extremely dry nonchalant humor in his voice): Just testing you.

I’m a bad parent. I laughed out loud, and went in and told him I was proud of him and high-fived him.

The Spontaneous Emergence of Captain Beefheart II

Aaaah. My little H.o.p. says that he’s going to “do a comedy musical about a man with a fish head who runs around bumping into stuff”.

And he doesn’t even know about Captain Beefheart.

The above idea followed after his talking about the musical he was going to do about a banshee and a yeti.

Slings, Arrows and Eggs

H.o.p. had a busy Saturday and Sunday at Atlanta’s Jazz Festival with his dad, seeing Jaspects and Julie Dexter, Airto and Flora Purim, and Bobby Hutcherson. I didn’t go along as I was otherwise occupied, but they had a great time and H.o.p. ran and ran and ran and ran and came home complaining about how sweaty he was.

Later we sat down to attempt to memorize the “To Be or Not To Be” soliloquy. Why? I don’t know why as we’re not Shakespeare nuts here, but the other night H.o.p. announced that he wanted to learn it. Which means teaching him what it means.

And so we got to work.

H.o.p. began, “To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether tis nobler, in the mind, to suffer a series of unfortunate events…”

Yes, yes, much like that, but it’s not quite right, H.o.p. Though that’s a good substitute and I like it very much.

H.o.p. began, “To be or not to be, that is the question. Whether tis nobler, in the mind, to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and the unfortunate egg…”

And he drops a plastic egg on my head, laughing uncontrollably and pleased with his sense of humor.

So was I, to tell the truth. But not after the tenth time.

“To be or not to be. The end!” and he flung himself on the ground, again pleased with his sense of humor.

Eventually, he was able to learn the first several lines.

“It has a lot of exclamation points,” he remarked.

And the occasional, unfortunate egg.

H.o.p. asks, "What are they doing advertising things that hurt the earth at a place that’s supposed to help the earth?"

From when he was knee-high, I’ve been telling H.o.p. about ads. What ads want from you. What they want to sell you. I tell him about the relationship between ads and some of the websites he visits. Like Neopets. I ever remind him that those sites want something from him, which is all the time and interest they can get from him, because they’re full of ads waiting for someone to take notice. Especially with Neopets, we used to go round and round on this. “But it’s free!” And I’d say, yes, their games are free to you to use, but they expect to eventually sell you something. He loves Neopets and has a Neopet that he tends to daily, taking care of it. But I wanted him to know that their website also gets something out of his visits, that they wouldn’t be doing this if they weren’t getting something out of him visiting and taking care of his no-subscription-fee Neopet.

So, my little nine-year-old was sitting at his computer making his CLICK charity rounds.

I hear a gasp.

Continue reading H.o.p. asks, "What are they doing advertising things that hurt the earth at a place that’s supposed to help the earth?"

Having polished off my last chocolate raisin, I will slide back under the desk

Drama kings and queens.

Me (to H.o.p.): Don’t be a Drama King.

H.o.p.: What’s a Drama King.

Me: You know what a Drama King is.

H.o.p.: To be or not to be?

I’m stealing that one.

* * * * * * *

A while back I pretty much stopped writing about politics because, frankly, after reading the news each day I slide under the desk and can only be tempted back out into the light by chocolate raisins, but like you have any right to criticize me for that when Zapatista rebels start writing and selling “Just sex. Pure pornography” novels, self-satisfyingly drawing on pipes during promotional interviews. What the hell that’s about, I don’t know.

But since I stopped writing about politics one had to have known it was only a matter of time before I started blogging about CELEBS!

What broke the dam? Ms. Spears demanding to be let off a plane right before take-off, apparently causing a delay, because she’d realized they didn’t have any leather seats!

Does Ms. Spears never sit in not-leather seats?

My mind looks for reasons behind the obvious. Like maybe the pure porno novel is all secret code. And maybe Ms. Spears is upset because vinyl will leave creases in your skin or something whereas leather won’t? (Did I just make that up or did I read it somewhere many years ago. And yes I realize now it was probably a cloth seat, which gives you an idea of how often I fly, which I don’t, because I hate flying.) Or maybe she’s just another crazy multi-megarich businessperson? When the music she was lip-syncing to started skipping at a “performance” the other night, she did have the presence of mind to keep on dancing rather than leap off the stage onto the sound techs, screaming they were out to get her, so she knows something about how the show must go on.

I never paid too much attention to celebs, but started reading a couple of star-worship sites a few months ago because I wanted to contemplate the why why why of celebrity worship, and have even written a couple of posts on it but never put them up. One thing I’ve noticed is that celebs, like politicians and big business, don’t often apologize for anything. Am I wrong on this? I don’t think they do though.

Seems one thing I have learned too late is never apologize for anything. I should have known better. After all, what was that myth about George Washington never telling a lie about except a nod and a wink as to the clergy of business-money-politics never having to offer an apology for the actions of their beloved hatchets?

So why in the world do I tell H.o.p. things like it’s the big person who knows when to acknowledge when they’ve done a wrong and apologize, and that people will respect you for it?

Again, just checking

Last night it was…

H.o.p.: I have something to ask you, mom. How weird is it to find an alien for the first time in your bathtub?

Me: Very weird.

Today, talking with his Oma on the phone, H.o.p. started crying out, “Oh, daddy, not again! Don’t do it again!” and then would make huge fart sounds on his arm. “Oh, daddy! Not again!” Huge fart sounds.

As H.o.p. runs screaming from the room

On one of the homeschool groups I’m on, an almost-war popped up over home science. One person had written in something about homeschool and science needs and how they were amazed at the materials some people had at home or had easy access to. The person ended the comment with a smiley, which indicates good will and that they weren’t snarking about it. And the post didn’t read like someone snarking.

Someone responded with a smackdown saying they were stunned by the person’s attitude and progressed to give a list of everything they had stockpiled at home for a good homeschool science program base, including glass metric beakers and different scales and test tubes and syringes and a butane torch from Williams-Sonoma that is for melting sugar on creme brulee (I checked the price, $40.00) and more scales and all kinds of copper wire and clippers and drapery pulleys and all kinds of tapes and jars of different things and magnets (magnets are damn expensive, by the way) and switches and tubings and just about anything you can imagine plus more and a tool chest full of stuff and scrap wood and all kinds of chemicals and a neighbor with a motorized microscope and boxes in the garage filled with boxes and cans and jars and plasticware and anything you’d like to get to dissect ordered special online.

Thus began the discussion on dissections, with others writing in about dissecting foetal pigs and rats and frogs and all kinds of other crap at home, so you begin to get a picture of all these people with dead rats and frogs and foetal pigs in the refrigerator waiting to be taken apart, sitting along side the cheese and carrots and lunch meat.

Then began to trickle in the posts from homeschoolers who live in minuscule apartments (some with less space than ours and more people in them) and people living in minuscule apartments on army bases etc., or in way out of the way places at the edge of the world, going, “Whoa! We hardly have room for ourselves! We can’t stockpile!”

And some of us aren’t crazy about dissecting, either.

We’ve got enough with what H.o.p. stockpiles for his movies (and prospective movies). Our shelves overflow with books and clay, clay, clay and books and boxes filled with clay sculptures from movies past and more books and more books and mountains of stacks of drawings and more books and ten other boxes of sculptures and bins full of legos and nuts and bolts and a bookcase alone devoted to housing scenes and creations for movies on which he’s currently working so we can get a little bit of table room now and then (and most of these movies he doesn’t even finish or save these days, because he gets half-way through them and decides he hasn’t done as well with it as he wants and he scraps the project and starts another). Plus the different musical instruments H.o.p. has begun to accumulate, including the piano (lessons) and a number of different flutes and drums and now he’s always on the look out for percussion instruments to add to his collection which he uses for making sounds in the puppet shows he puts on and which he plans on using for his little “radio” recordings, and yes then there are all the puppets we have, including the puppets H.o.p. buys now with his own money. While he was hunting for another dragon puppet at Ebay we came across some wonderful Chinese dragon puppets I’m considering getting for him as a surprise.

But that’s not the point of the post. What I was thinking about was my dad is a scientist and it’s likely the only vaguely scientific thing his mom had at home was a thermometer, and I doubt he had much in the way of this kind of science in public school, just like I didn’t and I know that my brother who is a highly specialized pediatrics physician, who has the depressing work of trying to save a child here and there from illness that usually means certain death, had nothing in public school in the way of this kind of science, and again in our home the only vaguely scientific thing we had when I was a kid was the thermometer that would occasionally reward us with a day off from school.

Some kids just aren’t built for certain kinds of science. Like dissecting.

Me: H.o.p., what would you think about dissecting a frog?

H.o.p.: Dissecting a frog?

Me: Y’know, where they cut into something and take it apart to see its mechanics…

H.o.p.: Oh, gross! Don’t even say that to me! No! I’m not going to dissect anything!

Me: Ok.

And off I go to the computer to write this post, feeling a bit of relief, as I was the kid in school who got out of the one day science experiment we had in tenth grade of dissecting a frog, because the smell of the formaldehyde was so strong I became ill and literally couldn’t breathe and thought I was going to pass out.

I read about all these kids dissecting things…like foetal pigs… and I kind of wonder why when there are virtual dissections online…and I’m a bad science mom because, like H.o.p., I think, “Oh, gross!” to any of it. Plus…

Several hours later

So I was at the hospital visiting my sister and telling her about the foetal pigs and rats and frogs. “Oh, you can get those vacuum packed,” she said, being a homeschooler herself and her eldest daughter having enjoyed dissecting when about 15.

The baby is beautiful. I stayed several hours and we tried not to laugh too much as she has something like 15 staples in her abdomen. Her doctor dropped by while I was there and, true to everything she’s told me about him, he’s got to be one of the more remarkable doctors I’ve ever met.

Then my sister’s oldest daughter arrived to spend the night and rather than leave right away I was munching on tomato chips with her, when the phone rang.

And speaking of dissection…

It was Marty. “You have to leave now,” he said. “I just sliced my hand open.”

Just what you want to hear from a keyboardist.

He’d cut his hand on a glass while he was washing dishes. He didn’t know it was there in the sink, broken. (Neither did I. I had been looking at that sink of dishes before going to visit my sister in the hospital and thinking I should get them washed but decided I’d wait until I got home.) So there he was washing those dishes while I was visiting my sister and the broken glass found him and sliced open the area between his fourth and fifth fingers on his left hand. Luckily it didn’t slice a tendon. Or a nerve. But man was it nasty. I mean really really very very nasty. The kind of nasty where you get a nice picture of the inner workings of the muscles of the hand as the flesh has been clean sliced away.

He spent from 9:30 until after 1:00 am in the emergency room. It took them 20 minutes to stitch his hand. He has 11 stitches.

They tell him if his hand is unbandaged, it stands a good chance of ripping open. But if it’s bandaged, that part of the body collects water easily, won’t dry out, and he has a good chance of the tissue becoming soft and the stitches ripping open. The nurses didn’t come right out and say it but gave him the feeling that those stitches are going to rip open and he’s going to be back in sooner than he’s supposed to be.

Thus ends today’s science/physiology lesson (an expensive one) which left H.o.p. grossed out and me reading him for a long time tonight a very soothing, funny book before he fell asleep. Sometimes I incorporate him into the plots and it was one of those nights where H.o.p. was an improvised character.

No, H.o.p. didn’t run screaming from the room. I’d titled this post hours before The Big Event, just a kind of humorous remark on H.o.p.’s reaction to dissection.

All our Ikea glasses are now in the trash. We’ve had a major problem with one after another breaking in that sink (an old steel one with a very thin wash of almost vanished porcelain). “I don’t want to see another Ikea glass,” Marty said. So I dumped them. Our next glasses will be plastic.